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Wits and Liberty launch new Fintech Hub

- Wits University

New Hub will be a place where researchers, entrepreneurs and professionals can get together to leverage technology to solve problems in the field of finance.

Wits University, in collaboration with the Liberty Group, has launched a new FinTech research hub.

Wits in association with the Liberty Group has launched a new Fintech Hub.

Located in the new “Flame Station” building at the Liberty Group campus in Braamfontein, the Hub is a space where researchers, thinkers, tinkerers, and problem-solvers can meet and collaborate to develop optimal solutions to real-world problems.

According to Professor Jason Cohen, Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, the Fintech Hub is part of the broader innovation ecosystem that Wits is building.

“The Fintech Hub was established from a desire by the Liberty Group and Wits in late 2021 to collaborate to establish a space where individuals can solve real-world problems and find solutions to known and future challenges in fintech, data sciences and AI, and that it would be characterised by a creative and intellectual diversity and be a space that would foster the entrepreneurial spirit,” says Cohen. 

The Hub complements a number of other exciting initiatives in the School of Economics and Finance aimed at strengthening teaching and research in finance, including the launch of the FirstRand Foundation Chair in Financial Data Science.

This Hub will play an important role in the training of postgraduate students in finance and related disciplines, and through exposing students to latest technologies, data and research will help to ensure the industry relevance and readiness of Wits' students.

“The Hub will contribute enormously to building the sorts of local capacity the financial services sector needs and provide the skills needed to futureproof organisations in the sector.”

Fintech research in South Africa and Africa is important for several reasons, says Professor Chimwemwe Chipeta, Head of the Finance Division in the School of Economics and Finance, and Director of the Fintech Hub.

Firstly, he says, Fintech is an emerging area that has not been adequately addressed in the empirical literature.

“There are a myriad problems that need to be tackled, particularly in how technology, such as machine learning and AI can be used to resolve problems in finance.”

Secondly, fintech research promotes financial inclusion by developing new technologies and models that are specifically tailored to meet the unique challenges faced by the African market and thirdly, fintech research is vital for informing regulatory frameworks in order to balance innovation with consumer protection.

“Research in this emerging area can provide insights into how fintech can support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are crucial for job creation and economic diversification in African economies.”

A new Master of Commerce degree in the field of Financial Technology has been developed on the back of the launch of the hub, says Cohen.

“Working together with industry, researchers and students in the Hub will also tackle the sorts of innovative solutions needed to ensure greater access and inclusion to financial services for underserved communities.”

The Fintech Hub was launched on Monday, 6 May, at the Liberty Building in Braamfontein.